Much Ado About Nothing: Beatrice, Portia and Marriage
Hero and Claudio represent the Elizabethan norm in marriage. Claudio is the shrewd, hardheaded fortune hunter and Hero is the modest maiden of conduct books and marriage manuals, a docile young woman. It is important to note that Claudio is more concerned with advanhttp://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=15060cement in Don Pedro's army than he is with love. Therefore, Shakespeare illustrates to the reader through the near tragedy of mistaken identity that Claudio must learn that marriage is more than a business arrangement and become worthy of Hero's love and affection. Source: Ranald, Margaret Loftus. "As Marriage Binds, and Blood Breaks: English Marriage and Shakespeare". Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol 30, 1979: 68-81.
In addition, this relationship illustrates the "cuckold" fear that is very pertinent during Shakespeare's time. Claudio is easily wooed into believing Don John's fabrication about Hero's infidelity. Since women were considered possessions, this infidelity is the ultimate betrayal and a mortal wound to Claudio's self esteem. In reality, Hero had remained the chaste and virtuous model of the Elizabethan woman. Source: Hays, Janice. "Those "soft and delicate desires": Much Ado and the Distrust of Women". Lenz, Carolyn Ruth Swift, Greene, Gayle, and Neely, Carol Thomas Ed., The Woman's Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. University of Illinois Press: Chicago, 1980.
Feminist critics of Much Ado About Nothing, like Sylvia Townsend Warner, praise Beatrice for being "free and uninhibited" ("Women as Writers," Warner, 272). Beatrice is a strong female character who marries only after asserting her disapproval for the traditionally voiceless role of women in marriage and courtship relationships of the 16th and 17th c. Beatrice is a fearless verbal warrior, and Benedick is her greatest challenger. Their verbal bantering allow for each of their strengths and opinions to show, and...